sweet potato gnocchi with a sage corn pancetta cream sauce

I’m going to admit this pasta dish rocks. I’m also going to admit I didn’t use anyone’s recipe it came together as I started to plan it.

I have written down both the recipe for the sauce and the pasta as best I can. I hope it comes together for you like it did for me.

I think the sauce is amazing and could easily be translated to a fettuccine or something.

The Creamy Pancetta Sage Sauce

  • • 4 ounces diced pancetta (Wegmans sells it)
  • • 4 tablespoons butter
  • • 2 small vidalia onions chopped
  • • 1 small red hot pepper diced (no seeds!)
  • • 2 ears of cooked corn off the cob
  • • 2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • • 1 pint light cream (2 cups)
  • • 2 tablespoons Wondra flour (super fine for sauces)
  • • 2/3 cup fine grated Parmesan
  • Melt the butter. Add the onion and the red pepper and some salt to taste. Add the corn. Chop fine the fresh sage and add that. Cook until the onion starts to get translucent.

    This should all be low to the bare minimum of medium heat. You don’t want anything to burn.

    Add the flour. Stir briskly in the pan so nothing sticks and the flour is absorbed.

    Add the wine. Stir briskly. Let that cook for a minute or two and add the light cream.

    Allow the sauce to come together and stir constantly until an even warm temperature. You want it to come to almost a boil but not a boil because you don’t want to scald the cream.

    Add the Parmesan cheese gradually till all incorporate it and let it cook on low a little while longer. Let it cook down, and it will cook down some and thicken a bit. It doesn’t get stand your spoon upright thick, but it thickens in consistency.

    Gnocchi

    The gnocchi are an approximation. I make my pasta by feel.

    • 1 1/2 cups of leftover mashed sweet potatoes.
    • 2 cups of semolina flour
    • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
    • 1 egg
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    • A few dashes of extra-virgin olive oil

    Combine everything in a bowl and bring your dough together. After everything is evenly mixed place a damp cloth over the bowl that your dough is in and let it rest for an hour.

    Roll out between your hands thin “snakes” of dough and with a sharp knife cut even sized bite-size pieces.

    Your pasta should be laid out on a baking sheet covered with a silicone baking pad. You should have enough for two layers of bite-size pieces and the layers should be separated with parchment paper and covered with parchment paper and a linen towel and put in your refrigerator until you are ready to cook your pasta.

    Fresh gnocchi only take a few scant minutes to cook in boiling water. They will rise to the surface as they cook.

    As you remove your gnocchi add a little bit of sauce in between and then finish with sauce on top.

    Mangia!

    cooking gnocchi with mushrooms


    I ended up having some people over for dinner last night.  So I butterflied a big roaster chicken and roasted Julia Child style simply with fresh herbs (you can see the chicken in the photo at the bottom of the page – that was what it looked like as it went into the oven – I forgot to take its picture when it came out). 

    I served with a fresh mixed green salad to which I added a simple balsamic mustard vinaigrette, and the starch was homemade gnocchi with mushrooms. Dessert in case you were wondering was sliced fresh strawberries from Kimberton Whole Foods.

    I have previously given you my gnocchi recipe. So use that as your guide to rolling them out until little logs and slicing them into bite-size pieces, but the dough composition is different and here’s how I did it:

     
    1 egg beaten
     
    4 to 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
     
    2  medium sized (not huge) potatoes roasted skins removed and smashed up
     
    1 cup of ricotta strained to remove any extra liquid – whole milk is best
     
    1/3 cup grated Parmesan
     
    About 2 cups of flour, maybe  less – add half a cup at a time to your dough to see. You don’t want a dry dough with gnocchi, it should always feel not quite sticky but more elastic.
     
    1 tablespoon of rosemary leaves dried, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon of salt.
     
    Basically you mix it all together until becomes a dough but don’t overwork it. Then I throw a cloth over my bowl and allow the dough to rest for at least half an hour.
     
    When your dough has rested, break off pieces of the dough and roll into little logs and slice into bite-size pieces from the log. You can roll them off the edge of the forks so they have those lines in them or you can cook them just the way they are.
     
    After I make my gnocchi I lay them out on a large baking sheet on parchment paper and put it on a shelf by itself in the refrigerator till I am ready to cook.
     
     
    The sauce is pretty simple:
     
    Melt one stick of butter which is half a cup in a sauté pan – a large sauté pan because you will be adding the gnocchi to it later.
     
    When the butter is melted and starting to bubble just a slight bit, add half a large red onion diced. Add a little salt and pepper to taste.  Add one finely grated medium sized carrot.
     
    After the onion starts to turn slightly translucent, add thinly sliced baby Bella  mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms, and a handful of white mushrooms. Basically you should use one 8 ounce package of shiitake, The same size package of baby Portabella mushrooms also known as crimini, and about 4 ounces of white mushrooms.
     
    Next add a handful of fresh sage leaves chopped into small-ish pieces and about a teaspoon of dried rosemary  or if you have fresh dice up a smallish twig.
     
    When everything seems to be cooked together fairly well but not mushy remove from heat.
     
    I do the mushroom mixture ahead of time and not at the same time I am cooking my gnocchi because there is not enough time.
     
    After the mushroom mixture is cooled use a slotted spoon and remove the vegetables to their own bowl for the time being. Leave the butter and liquid from mushrooms in the bottom of the pan.
     
    Boil a large pot of salted water and when everything is really boiling toss in all your gnocchi.
     
    The same time you are boiling your gnocchi bring the pan with the butter and the mushroom juices back up to heat. You may have to add about another tablespoon of butter and do add a scant 1/4 cup of white wine.  (Last night I was roasting a chicken as I was making these gnocchi for a side dish so I also tossed in 2 tablespoons of pan juices. ) You need that mixture to reach almost boil but not cook off. Also toss in two or three whole sage leaves.
     
    The gnocchi will cook probably in about 3 to 4 minutes – when they all are bubbling to the surface and bobbing around, use a slotted spoon to remove them.
     
    Put the gnocchi immediately into the pan with butter and wine that should be really bubbling at this point. Move the gnocchi around gently to brown slightly. As you are moving the gnocchi around gently add back the mushrooms and red onion to heat again.
     
    Be careful  with your gnocchi they are a slightly delicate things but once everything is browned through toss half a cup of grated Parmesan on on top and some diced flat leaf parsley if you choose. Toss one more time into a bowl and serve.
     
     

    gnocchi for dinner

    Well I already told you how to make my Bolognese made with ground turkey, right?  Lucky you all, I will give you the quick and dirty on easy as pie homemade gnocchi. After all, they are  just  Italian dumplings, kids.

    But before we get to the gnocchi of it all, I messed with my sauce today.  Did not have mushrooms, so I omitted those.  Diced up a handful (four) sun-dried tomatoes though to add another layer.

    I make gnocchi when I have leftover mashed potatoes.  I learned how to make potato and ricotta gnocchi from my great aunts by feel, so the ingredients are an approximation, maybe might need tweaking (or not.)

    2 cups flour (all-purpose)

    1 1/2 cups mashed potatoes (they were plain mashed.  You can use sweet potatoes, and pumpkin as well as ricotta to make gnocchi but that is another conversation entirely.)

    1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I like the Parmesan-Romano blend)

    Italian seasoning and garlic powder

    Salt and pepper to taste

    1 -3 tablespoons olive oil

    Mash the flour, grated cheese and potatoes together.  Add the egg, olive oil,  and Italian seasoning and a little salt and pepper.

    Do not overmix, but gather your dough into a ball, break off pieces you roll into uniform dough tootsie rolls with your hands (you know so they are round?)

    Take a small sharp knife and on a board covered in parchment slice out even little bits of dough.

    Lay out on lightly floured board for a couple of hours to dry a bit. I refrigerate mine right on the baking sheet.

    Boil water with salt and oil, cook your gnocchi until they all float to surface (5 minutes or so.)

    Scoop out gently with strainer.

    Add sauce.

    Eat yourself into a pasta coma.